It’s no secret that Key West has a love hate relationship with two-wheeled motorized vehicles. Scooters and motorcycles offer alternative transportation that is affordable and easy to use, especially with Key West traffic congestion and parking issues. But the flip side is sacrificing safety for convenience. While tourists are blamed for their lack of scooter driving knowledge and unfamiliarity with the streets, locals are also accountable for reckless speed with their over-familiarity and lack of caution. And both can be looked at equally for drinking and driving. But here’s the thing: rules are rules for everybody and the police will be enforcing them.
The Key West Police Department is amping up its campaign for improved motorcycle and scooter safety with a recent $50,000 grant from the Florida Department Of Transportation. According to Alyson Creans, public relations officer, the grant will allow for more overtime pay so officers can specifically enforce scooter and motorcycle regulations. Officers will also be able to be more proactive with warnings and stopping offenders. In conjunction, Creans will be generating media and online safety education. Every year, the KWPD creates a map of the most common accident areas that acts as a guide for officers to police, such as the North Roosevelt crosswalks, Home Depot crosswalk, the Triangle and highly popular tourist areas like lower Duval.
Here’s what officers will be looking for, according to KWPD: Scooters and motorcycles must obey speed limits and traffic control devices. Drivers cannot carry items in a way that prevents both hands from using the handlebars, and cannot drive on sidewalks or on bicycle paths. Eye protection is required for motorcycles. Passenger footrests are required. Passing in the same lane is illegal, especially passing on the right. It is illegal to ride between the lanes of traffic. Drivers must not ride more than two abreast and must not wear headsets while riding a motorcycle or scooter.
“Statistics look better overall,” said Creans “But with two fatalities in the past month, we still have work.”
Scooter and motorcycle crashes in Key West
*: FDOT made $83,000 safety grant
**: 2017 total so far, including three fatalities